Guest Conductor Coming to Work with Band Students Before Major Performances

This is the busy season for students in any of the Saint Viator bands. 

Consider this lineup of performances: They are rehearsing to play in the pit orchestra for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella from Feb. 2-5. Next up, the symphonic and concert bands are preparing for the State of the Art Catholic band competition, on Feb. 18. at Providence High School. Saint Viator enters this year’s competition as the defending grand champion.

Director Sam Pilnick will be submitting a recording from the band’s performance at State of the Art to the Superstate Band Competition, which Saint Viator was invited to last year. If selected, the band would play in the Illinois SuperState Concert Band Festival, which opens May 5 at the Krannert Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign.

 The jazz band is preparing for the spring concert and some potential community performances, while individual students are preparing for the IHSA solo and ensemble competition in March. 

With so many performances coming up, the band needs to tune up, so to speak. Consequently, Mr. Pilnick is bringing in a guest conductor on Feb. 2 to work with them: Steve Gooden. He is director of the Merit Philharmonic and its Symphonic Band at the Merit School of Music in Chicago. 

Mr. Gooden also is the band director at Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park, and he is a distinguished clarinet soloist, chamber musician and ensemble player.

Officials at Merit describe Mr. Gooden as an “inspirational educator, dynamic musical artist, and a passionate equity and inclusion advocate.”

“I am looking forward to our students working with someone who has worked with great musician ensembles, who perform at the highest level,” Mr. Pilnick says. “I also want the students to get a different perspective in how we are playing and preparing, not only for this cycle of music, but future cycles of music, and incorporate these skills into their musical and personal lives.” 

Mr. Pilnick is a performer and composer himself, and he strives to have his band students play a wide range of musical styles and influences throughout all three ensembles. 

“I would like the Saint Viator bands to keep growing, developing and playing high quality repertoire at the highest level,” he says. “I want our students to continue to develop into independent and creative musicians -- and people of society.” 


Saint Viator High School

Located in Arlington Heights, IL, Saint Viator High School is a private, co-ed, Catholic school for grades 9-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.